NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell said this week the sanctioning body has felt it has ramped up penalties for teams failing inspection multiple times but conceded “it hasn’t seemed to work.’’ What should NASCAR do next to further encourage teams to pass without making so many attempts?
Nate Ryan: Fix it. If NASCAR knew how to do that, it would have already. While a fair amount of culpability – perhaps the majority of the blame – lies with the teams, it doesn’t ultimately matter who is at fault. The situation just needs to be fixed. NASCAR and team executives need to hold a closed-door meeting and do as much screaming and deal-making as necessary to reach a suitable solution.
Dustin Long: Increase the penalties. There’s a line and if teams are going to cross it, then they suffer the consequences.
Daniel McFadin: First penalty that popped in my head regarding pre-race qualifying is the team is allowed to compete in the race, but they won’t earn any points, no matter where they finish.
Dan Beaver: Give up. It doesn’t matter how stiff NASCAR makes the penalties, so long as teams believe they can gain a competitive advantage, they are going to keep pressing the envelope. If NASCAR doesn’t want to concede the inevitable, perhaps they should limit the number of times repeat offenders can go through: If a team failed three times last week, only give them two attempts this week.
Is an All-Star Race needed in NASCAR?
Nate Ryan: It is if something inventive were to be done with it. The plates and aero changes this weekend are a step in the right direction, but even better would be a truly radical move such as moving the race to South Boston Speedway or Nashville (as Jeff Burton suggested in this column last year). The weekend also needs more of the “event” feel that Kevin Harvick has advocated; try some irreverent “driver skills” competitions to showcase their personalities.
Dustin Long: Yes and no. If NASCAR is going to do something different with the event — and making the event a glorified test session is not that — than keep it. If not, then dump it.
Daniel McFadin: Yes, if only as an exhibition for testing new features in a competitive environment, like we’re getting with the restrictor plates and aero package. But honestly, the event needs to be held at a new venue. It’s not 1986 anymore, or the year it was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway in front of a sparse crowd. It has years of history behind it and would likely thrive on a short track. Say, Martinsville under the lights?
Dan Beaver: The All-star race is always a lot of fun, but it doesn’t need its own weekend. Move it to Thursday night and test the viability of a mid-week show.
What will you be looking at in this week’s All-Star Race with the new rules package?
Nate Ryan: Speeds could be slower than the laps made by amateurs on the same track in the Richard Petty Driving Experience, but hopefully it will bring the “pack racing” that is found in the Indianapolis 500 (the plates won’t re-create the conditions seen at Daytona and Talladega). If holding the accelerator wide open for the duration of the lap brings more side-by-side racing, the 160-mph pace won’t be nearly as noticeable.
Dustin Long: How racy that drivers can get with this package.
Daniel McFadin: How competitive the top three cars are 10 laps into a run. If there’s not a healthy battle for the lead at that point, it’s time to be concerned.
Dan Beaver: The fan reaction. Last year’s Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was widely considered a success with similar rules, so it is going to be interesting to see if the fans support those changes in Cup. With most of the 1.5- and 2-mile races this year being marked by one driver dominating, something needs to be done to encourage passing.